Dziga Vertov – Tri pesni o Lenine AKA Three songs about Lenin (1934)

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Quote:
The legendary Dziga Vertov’s most personal and deeply felt film, as well as the touchstone of his brilliant career. Three Songs of Lenin reveals the Russian leader as seen through the eyes of the Russian people represented in three songs. The first, “In a Black Prison Was My Face,” concerns the life of a young Muslim woman. “We Loved Him” deals with the life and death of Lenin himself. The third song, “In the Great City of Stone” shows the accomplishments of his glorious rule. Continue reading

Sidney Franklin – Private Lives (1931)

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Plot: Elyot and Sibyl are being married in a big church ceremony. Amanda and Victor are being married by a French Justice of the Peace. Both couples go to a hotel on the same day and are put in adjoining rooms with adjoining terraces. Things go fine until Amanda sees her former husband Elyot on the adjacent terrace. While they both pretend to be happy, both make plans to leave, but their spouses do not want to leave as it is their respective honeymoons. So the other spouses each go down to the bar. This leaves Elyot and Amanda together and they reminisce. Before long, the sparks again fly and they both decide to leave together to the Mountains of Switzerland. They love, they bicker, they fight, they stop. Then it begins over and over. Then Victor and Sibyl show up at their chalet. Written by Tony Fontana Continue reading

Lloyd Bacon – Footlight Parade (1933)

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Plot Synopsis [AMG]
The last—and to some aficionados, the best—of choreographer Busby Berkeley’s three Warner Bros. efforts of 1933, Footlight Parade stars James Cagney as a Broadway musical comedy producer. Cagney is unceremoniously put out of business when talking pictures arrive. To keep his head above water, Jimmy hits upon a swell idea: he’ll stage musical “prologues” for movie theatres, then ship them out to the various picture palaces in New York. Halfway through the picture, Cagney is obliged to assemble three mammoth prologues and present them back-to-back in three different theatres. There are all sorts of backstage intrigues, not the least of which concerns the predatory hijinks of gold-digger Claire Dodd and the covetous misbehavior of Cagney’s ex-wife Renee Whitney. Joan Blondell plays Jimmy’s faithful girl-friday, who loves him from afar; Ruby Keeler is the secretary who takes off her glasses and is instantly transformed into a glamorous stage star; Dick Powell is the “protege” of wealthy Ruth Donnelly, who makes good despite this handicap; Frank McHugh is Cagney’s assistant, who spends all his time moaning “It’ll never work”; and Hugh Herbert is a self-righteous censor, who ends up in a censurable position. The last half-hour of Footlight Parade is a nonstop display of Busby Berkeley at his most spectacular: the three big production numbers, all written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, are “By a Waterfall”, “Honeymoon Hotel”, and “Shanghai Lil”, the latter featuring some delicious pre-code scatology, a tap-dance duet by Cagney and Keeler, and an out-of-left-field climactic salute to FDR and the NRA! Continue reading

Jacques Feyder – Le grand jeu AKA The Great Game AKA The Full Deck (1934)

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Synopsis:
Pierre (Pierre Richard-Willm), a young lawyer, has enormous debts due to his mistress Florence (Marie Bell), and her whims of luxury life. Pierre has gone too far and put the family firm in jeopardy. They ask him to expatriate. To avoid scandal, Pierre joins the Foreign Legion. In Morocco, near the desert, Pierre goes with his comrades of the Legion to a bar-restaurant-brothel, owned by a shady character, Mr. Clement (Charles Vanel). Clement lives more or less with Ms.Blanche (Françoise Rosay) who is a fortune teller with cards, as a hobby. But Clement is also after his girls now and then. Pierre is still obsessed with Florence but he meets Irma (Marie Bell), one of Clement’s girls, who is the double of Florence except for hair color. Irma has had an accident and has lost part of her memory at a certain point of her recent past, and Pierre slowly persuades himself she is Florence, but cannot remember it. Advised by Ms.Blanche, Irma finally accepts to act as if she was Florence because she is falling in love with Pierre. Near the end of his contract with the Legion, Pierre receives news from France. He has inherited a fortune. He asks Irma to come to France with him, and they make plans. But Clement tries to rape Irma and Pierre has to kill him. Continue reading

Alessandro Blasetti – Terra madre (1931)

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PLOT SYNOPSIS
After many years in the city, the Duke Marco, accompanied by his lover Daisy and by a cohort of frivolous and condescending friends, pays a visit to the country estate in which he grew up, and that he now owns after his father’s death. The Duke slowly comes to acknowledge how deeply connected he feels towards the ancestral land and its humble people, but he is torn between his duties as a landowner and the whims of Daisy, who pushes him to sell the estate to an unscrupulous businessman. To complicate matters, the Duke gets increasingly fond of Emilia, the young and outspoken daughter of the head farmer. Continue reading

William Hamilton & Edward Killy – Murder on a Bridle Path (1936)

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From TCM:
When the body of Violet Feverel, who had taken her horse for an evening ride, is discovered in Central Park, Inspector Oscar Piper of the New York police arrives at the crime scene and is joined by his friend, amateur detective and schoolteacher Hildegarde Withers. After Hildegarde locates Violet’s horse and bloodied saddle, Oscar concludes that she was murdered and begins to question suspects, including Latigo Wells, the manager of Violet’s stable. Confronted by Oscar’s suspicions, Wells reveals that Violet had quarreled with Eddie Fry, her sister Barbara Foley’s boyfriend, just before the murder. Hildegarde then finds out from High Pockets, a stable employee, that Violet also had quarreled with Wells just before her death. At Violet’s apartment, Oscar and Hildegarde discover Eddie and Barbara hastily packing and question them. The young couple, who had become engaged in spite of Violet’s objections, defend their innocence and cast suspicion on Don Gregg, Violet’s ex-husband, whom Violet had jailed for nonpayment of alimony. Continue reading